CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The 11th-ranked Railsplitters overcame a rough start and senior Vincent Bailey knocked down the eventual game-winning shot with 56 seconds left to escape Queens University with a 72-71 victory in South Atlantic Conference men’s basketball action on Saturday.
Lincoln Memorial University wins its ninth-straight game to improve to 9-1 in SAC play and 13-1 overall while the Queens Royals fall to 7-7 and 5-5.
The Railsplitters complete the regular-season sweep of SAC newcomer Queens with Saturday’s victory, building on a narrow 61-56 triumph over the Royals at Tex Turner Arena on Nov. 23.
Queens opened the game on a 21-9 run, and Josh Clyburn carried that early flurry with eight of the Royals’ 21 points over that stretch. The Railsplitters regained their footing after that early blitzkrieg, rolling in a steady stream of buckets to close the gap to 29-26 on a Curtis McMillion lay-up at the 4:05 mark of the first frame.
Brent Evans and Jarrett Stokes kept LMU at bay with back-to-back jumpers to extend Queens’ cushion to 33-26, but the Railsplitters closed on an 8-2 run, capped with two Chance Jones free throws to take a 35-34 deficit into the halftime locker room.
Lincoln Memorial gained its first lead since 51 seconds into the game on a Bailey layup with 18 minutes remaining in regulation. The two teams traded the lead once more before LMU went up for good on Keenan Peterson’s basket at the 16:47 mark. A steady flow of free throws and layups helped the Railsplitters buuild a 52-44 advantage, and Curtis Webb drained a 3-pointer with just over 11 minutes showing on the clock to push that advantage to nine.
The Royals, once again, responded, rolling off an 8-2 run in less than three minutes to clip the LMU lead back to 57-56. Webb halted that run and stopped the bleeding with a three and a lay-up in back-to-back possessions to give LMU some breathing room at 62-56 with 7:32 on the clock.
The Railsplitters held onto a two-possession lead until the Royals logged an 8-2 run from the 4:03 mark until the 1:26 clip, capped with a Clyburn lay-up to give Queens a 71-70 lead. Lincoln Memorial did not trail for long, as Bailey collected a missed three-pointer on the offensive end and knocked down the putback to propel LMU back in front 72-71 with only 56 ticks remaining.
Over that final stretch, LMU survived three missed shots by Queens, including a last-second potential game-winning shot attempt from Stokes as LMU claimed a one-point victory — its narrowest of the season.
Jones went a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line on his way to a team-leading 17 points. Jones added two rebounds and two assists. Webb recorded a career-high 15 points — 10 in the second half — with eight rebounds and two assists. Bailey finished with 12 points and seven rebounds in 28 foul-plagued minutes. Lorenza Ross added 12 points while dishing out a team-high three assists.
Clyburn and Stokes carried the Queens’ attack with 22 and 20 points, respectively, with Clyburn adding a game-high 12 rebounds. Nkosi Ali and Brent Evans chipped in with 10 points apiece, and Joby Glymph posted seven points, five rebounds and seven assists before fouling out after 28 minutes of action.
Lincoln Memorial returns to Tex Turner Arena on Wednesday for an 8 p.m. SAC game against Mars Hill.